Friday, October 29, 2010

Creepy Trumps Trampy

I sent my daughter to school today with a bloody lip. But she was asking for it.

And, sick as it may sound, I kind of enjoyed giving it to her. Except for when the blood dribbled too far down her chin and I had to sop it up with a tissue, and then later when she put on her new, white, winter coat and I had to yell, “Watch out! Don’t get blood on your coat!”

Yes, my daughter went to school today for her Halloween party dressed as a “Vamperina.” I’m not sure what this is, exactly, perhaps a morbid cross between a vampire and a ballet dancer, (which makes me grin, considering how much trouble I’ve had dealing with ballet teachers lately) but it does involve wearing a costume I think is much too sexy for an eleven year old girl. I made her wear a T-shirt underneath the top, which looks too frighteningly similar to a Merry Widow for my liking. I mean, are they hiring pedophiles to design Halloween costumes these days? And this costume is made for young girls. The size on the package says it fits Juniors Size 0 to 9 (and don’t even get me started on size 0). I have to admit the girl on the front looks cute wearing it, but somehow when the costume was on my daughter, it looked all wrong. Maybe I’m just a prude at heart, forced to suddenly face my inner Phyllis Schlafly when confronted with my own daughter looking one minute older than her eleven years.

My daughter wanted to wear make-up, too and, of course, I let her, because after all that’s what Halloween is all about. That’s what makes it fun—dressing up like someone you’re not. This is why my favorite go-to costume consists of black clothes and a pointed witch hat, because it’s easy and means I get to look like someone I’m not, even if I am only one letter away.

The T-shirt underneath and the blood dripping from her lip did make the costume, helping to transform it, at least in this mom’s eyes, from trampy to creepy. Creepy I can live with. And she’ll probably be able to wear the leggings again.

We won’t, however, discuss the fact my son went to school today dressed as a drunken pilot, because as everyone knows, the apple doesn’t—no, wait. Because as everyone knows, Halloween is about pretending to be something you’re not.
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Onion Opine

The only thing that stinks more than an onion is the onion metaphor. You know the one, about peeling away the layers. Oh, sure, it tries to hide itself, differentiating in little ways, but it’s all the same odiferous slop: “It’s like peeling away the layers of an onion”; “Peel away all the layers of an onion, and what do you have?”

You have tears in your eyes, and hands that smell for three days.

I must confess, I actually remember kind of liking the onion metaphor the first time I heard it. I thought it was deep. However, it began to lose its luster around the seven trillionth time. The metaphor is so old, I’m surprised writers still use it. The donkey in Shrek uses it (and I actually cheered when Shrek later referred to him as “onion boy”) and last night we heard it yet again when we finally got around to watching the movie The Blind Side. Now I guess, in defense of the screenwriter’s use of, “She's an onion... You have to peel her back one layer at a time,” in that movie, that it’s based on a true story and maybe Mr. Tuohy did have a habit of saying that about Mrs. Tuohy. But let me tell you, I don’t think I would be too fond of my husband referring to me as any root vegetable, least of all an onion.

I did find myself crying through half of The Blind Side, though. But I don’t think it had anything to do with onions or wrongful use of metaphor. A psychologist might say it had to do with the adoption theme. I found my daughter tearing up, too. The story hit a little close to home. From the kid that no one-else wanted to the sharp-tongued mom who lashed out at anyone hurting her cubs (Speaking of tired metaphors. My bad.) From the eighteen-dollar salads I can no longer abide or (in our new recessionary spending regime, instituted by my husband, whom I now fondly refer to as the "Quicken Nazi") afford anymore, to the people who were my friends and even some family members, that simply didn’t “get it,” it all rang true. I certainly hope my tears didn’t have anything to do with regret for adopting a young Russian girl, as opposed to a prospective NFL football player.

My tears always bring concern from my kids, which is so thoughtful and sweet, it’s hard to believe I find it in my heart to mess with them.

“I just love cooking for my family so much,” I’ve been know to melodramatically sniff when they come into the kitchen and find me in tears, before they notice the pile of chopped onions in front of me, which causes much eye-rolling but usually gets a laugh.

Three days of smelly hands isn’t too much of a price to pay for some unsolicited empathy from your children. Especially if it gets a laugh. Even if the laugh is as thin and fragile as the skin of an onion.

Sorry, but you know me. I couldn’t help but make a stink.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Backlash Blogging

As per usual, my timing is flawless. My blog, which I’ve been writing for close to five years now, has just become the newest member of the ChicagoNow family of bloggers, right in time for the Mommy Blogger Backlash.

Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who seem to think women exploiting their children for personal gain is wrong. Well, to them I say, “What else should we exploit our children for?”

My husband gave me the bad news the other day, about the teenage girl who stood up to her famous mommy blogger and told her, in so many words, to knock it off. The mommy blogger in question is Heather B. Armstrong and her blog is called “Dooce” and when you read her blog entry [] on her self-censorship it’s really quite touching. I didn’t want to like Dooce, because of the jealous evil inner- competitor in me, and also because her husband was able to quit his job just to manage her. Plus it's been reported they bought a big new house. I couldn’t help it, though. I like her blog. She’s funny. But her self-disclosure set up a media frenzy and like all good media-based ethical frenzies they force us to question our actions and motives, not to mention our career choices.

I’ve tried over the years to be careful what I write about my children. I don’t disclose where they go to school, or where we live, or tell stories I think would embarrass them (too much). I’ve pulled pictures at their request and run ideas by them. (My husband’s actually the more sensitive one, afraid I’ll portray him unfairly as the hapless husband doofus character we see in so many bad sit-coms.) I used to comfort all of them with my relative lack of fame in the blogosphere, saying things like, “My blog just doesn’t generate that much traffic. It only got twenty hits yesterday, and I know ten of them were Grandma.”

So when the ChicagoNow opportunity came knocking, I worried it would change things. For a while, I considered not doing it. Then weirdly, my family talked me into it. After much soul-searching, angst and writerly self-doubt on my part, we had an open and frank discussion about whether or not they minded being the subject of my writings and how they would feel if I actually did become famous and didn’t any of them really want a big new house? My husband, stopping short of quitting his job, even performed a spot-on impression of Mr. Potter from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” when he asked, “Oh, confound it, man, are you afraid of success?”

A little.

Regardless, you will now find me here fighting against the Mommy Blogger Backlash, exploiting my family for personal gain. Because if I didn’t find a reason to laugh a little bit every day, as anyone who's ever bought a stock I recommended, or stood behind me in the checkout line at Jewel can surely attest, I would find myself crying over my flawless timing.